City procures co-counsel for Farmer's Market case
The City of East Lansing has procured co-counsel in Michael S. Bogren of law firm Plunkett Cooney to help defend the city against the federal lawsuit now being referred to as the Farmer’s Market case.
Bogren, chairman of the Plunkett Cooney Board of Directors, specializes in first amendment and civil rights cases involving cities. He was hired by the city earlier this week following a search authorized at the June 20 city council meeting.
City Attorney Tom Yeadon advised City Council of the need of an additional lawyer to fight the federal lawsuit which was officially served to the city on June 19.
The decision to search for co-counsel was a mutual decision between city officials, City Manager George Lahanas said Tuesday.
“It's based on the workload Mr. Yeadon has currently,” Lahanas said.
Yeadon’s workload has been recently dominated by legal development agreements regarding two city redevelopments proposed at the beginning of this year. Both development agreements recently passed council unanimously after months of drafting legal language.
The decision on Bogren came after the city searched specifically for his area of expertise, Lahanas said.
That area of expertise, 42 U.S. Code Sec.1981, guarantees equal rights under the law.
Bogren said it was “not at all” a difficult decision for him.
“My practice is defending municipalities,” Bogren said confidently in a phone interview. “It’s what I do.”
However, Bogren divulged he and Yeadon had not yet discussed how the workload on the case would be divvied up.
Bogren has been a licensed attorney since 1982, joining Plunkett Cooney in 1985 and becoming a partner in the firm in 1989. Bogren has received a slew of awards during his career. Most recently, he was named a 2017 Best Lawyer in America for Municipal Law and Litigation, according to his webpage with the firm.
The lawsuit Bogren will defend was filed on behalf of Country Mill owner Steve Tennes, which alleges the city crafted an ordinance to keep him out of the city’s farmer’s market over his religious belief that only heterosexual people should be married.
The city has since said Country Mill was barred for its business practice of not hosting both same sex and opposite sex marriages at the Orchard, a business practice which violates the city’s civil rights policy and the farmer's market guidelines.